Children's science questions 'stump many parents'
Parents are failing to keep up with their children's scientific knowledge, a survey suggests.
Researchers for the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair interviewed 2,000 parents of children aged between five and 16.
Two-thirds of parents said they struggled with their children's science queries and a quarter felt frustrated.
Professor Brian Cox, a spokesman for the fair, admitted children's science questions could be tricky.
Almost one in three parents said they were quizzed by their curious offspring on a daily basis. The questions often left parents embarrassed by their own failure to provide answers.
Professor Cox said: "With more and more youngsters getting stuck into science and maths both in and out of school, it's no wonder they are constantly questioning the world around them.
TOP VEXING QUESTIONS
- Why is the Moon sometimes out in the day?
- Why is the sky blue?
- Will we ever discover aliens?
- How much does the earth weigh?
- How do aeroplanes stay up?
"Inquisitive minds are fantastic but clever questions can leave parents in a tricky situation if they don't have the answers.
"The best thing parents can do is work with their children to find the answers. Not only can it be fun, but you'll both learn something new along the way."
Children's enjoyment of science and maths was not always shared by their parents, with more than half of those surveyed saying the subjects filled them with dread.
More than a quarter of parents thought their offspring knew more about maths and science than they did.
Some added that their children's enthusiasm was fuelled by television series such as Frozen Planet or Wonders of the Universe.
About a third of parents said they actively researched answers to their children's inquiries.
But 16% told their children to ask their partner and a fifth made up a response or pretended that no one knew the answer.
SOME ANSWERS FROM BIG BANG FAIR
- The Moon is lit by the Sun. So when its orbit brings it to the right place, we can see it.
- Light bounces off molecules in the air and some colours of light travel through air and dust better than others. Blue light gets bounced around the most. So we see a blue colour.
- Nobody knows the answer to this question but as technology advances, who knows what we will discover.
- The earth technically weighs nothing, because it's falling around the sun.
- The upward lift of a plane is created by its curved wings. The way air flows over and under the wing allows a plane to lift. Planes stay up as they have more upward lift than the downward pull of gravity.
One in five parents wished they had taken more of an interest in maths and science at school, with 10% of mothers saying their lack of knowledge stemmed from poor support and encouragement for girls in the subjects when they were at school.
The interviews were carried out online by Onepoll at the end of November.
The Big Bang Fair, which is designed to encourage more young people into science, technology, engineering and maths, will take place in March at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.